Kulgam, 04 April: Zamrooda Akhter’s age does not detract her grace and confidence as she stands surrounded by rugs embroidered with green paisleys.For a woman in her teens, Zamrooda was introduced to handicrafts as a child and is now one of the most successful owners and entrepreneurs of Bagdad Handicrafts Society in the southern Kashmir district of Kulgam.
Kashmiri handicrafts are famous around the world for their uniqueness. Kashmir is known for handwoven carpets, shawls, stitch work and embroidery.
Zamrooda Akhter, an untutored woman, never imagined she would lead the handicraft profession and own her own small business in Kulgam District one day. In Anantnag and Kulgam district, Zamrooda runs 50 units where at least one thousand unemployed women and girls work on chain stitch, cereal, silk, rugs, embroidery, etc.
The 60-year-old Zamrooda began working when she was only 9 years old. She grew up in Laram Ganjipora area in Kulgam District .She got married in Waripora Kund Kulgam at the age of 25.
A school dropout , when she was in 6th grade, Zamrooda lost her parents when she was 20. For many of us, this is a time of unprecedented struggle and upheaval. Zamrooda never succumbed to circumstances, instead she stood up for herself, becoming a great source of inspiration for others.
In addition to being a mother of two married daughters, Zamrooda is an artisan, embroider, and owner of Bagdadi Handicrafts. Zamrooda has set up 50 Handicrafts units in Anantnag and Kulgam District and works according to the orders that they receive from dealers in the whole of Jammu and Kashmir. Talking to Daily Uqab Zamrooda said that they enjoy their work as it is an independent job, and they earn handsomely.
Each day, more and more unemployed girls are learning different traditional crafts in Bagdadi Handicraft units in different parts of Kulgam and Anantnag. These girls can then use their skills to make a living, she said.
Zamrooda is a motif of change that has created a network of thousands of women in Kulgam and Anantnag District making them self-reliant by providing them with a stable job.
“We went to multiple villages and motivated women. The ladies were motivated to work, but the men in their houses wanted them to stick to household chores. I insisted that men should let them work for 2 or 3 hours every day. Once these ladies were successful, more joined us. Once they started supporting the household, their families also started appreciating their work,” she said.
In each unit of Zamrooda’s Bagdad Handicrafts society, at least 20 women, including young girls are enrolled, and many of them have already learnt this craft.
Talking to Daily Uqab, Zamrooda said that she has never benefited from the concerned department here in Kulgam district. She said she worked hard to reach the goal of connecting thousands of unemployed girls with her units.
In a place like Jammu and Kashmir, where women are still finding their way and trying to find a presence, Zamrooda is a true genius who rightly defines a self-made woman. In her words, “A woman who is successful and knows her rights is independent and modern.”